Why WaPo Mideast Coverage is Untrustworthy
Forget about anti-Israel spins and distortions in Washington Post coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In an Aug. 13 article, diplomatic correspondent Anne Gearan serves up a couple of outright lies. ("A few reasons for optimism about latest attempt at peace)
Lie No. 1 -- Writing about resumption of peace negotiations, Gearan asserts that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "is a longtime hawk with no history of peacemaking."
No history of peacemaking on Netanyahu's watch? What about the 1997 Hebron Protocols and the 1998 Wye River Agreement when Netanyahu also served as prime minister and negotiated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat?
Under these land-for-peace accords during the Clinton administration, Netanyahu ceded the bulk of Hebron, Judaism's second holiest city, to the Palestinians. He also agreed to withdraw from other parts of the West Bank so as to expand the rule of the Palestinian Authority.
No history of peacemaking? These agreements required tough and lengthy negotiations -- with President Clinton playing a major role. For his part, Arafat agreed to end terrorism and anti-Israel incitement -- promises that quickly evaporated with the second intifada.
Still, it was this "longtime hawk" -- Benjamin Netanyahu -- who led the Israeli side of the negotiations and demonstrated that, when the chips are down, he is capable of offering plenty of dovish concessions and compromises.
"No history of peacemaking" -- give me a break. An outrageous lie that ought to be acknowledged and corrected by the Post.
Lie No. 2 --Writing about Jewish settlements in the context of peace negotiations, Gearan tells Post readers that Secretary of State John Kerry declared at a press conference during a visit to Colombia that "As the world, I hope, knows, the United States of America views all the settlements as illegal." If this were a true rendition of Kerry's words, this would mean a tectonic change in U.S. policy, which for many decades has refrained from calling settlements "illegal." Instead, U.S. presidents and secretaries of state use softer euphemisms.
So did Kerry break new ground and attach an "illegal" label on settlements? No, he definitely did not. The official State Department text of Kerry's remarks in Colombia has the secretary telling reporters "As you know, or the world I hope knows, the United States of America views all of the settlements as illegitimate." Gearan erased "illegitimate" and substituted "illegal." The two adjectives, however, are not synonymous. To substitute the latter for the former results in another egregious lie. Gearan inserted a falsehood in Kerry's mouth. That's unforgivable.
Incidentally, the New York Times, in its same day report, pays greater heed to the truth, reporting that "much of the world" views settlements as a violation of international law, but not claiming that the United States shares this view.
The Times also trumped the Post in selection of pictures to accompany these reports. The Post, again showing its pro-Palestinian colors, features a three-column photograph of a Palestinian mother hearing her son would be freed along with other Palestinian prisoners. In sharp contrast, the Times used two pictures to illustrate both sides of the story -- the same pic as the Post of the celebrating Palestinian mother alongside another photo of Israelis protesting with pictures of relatives killed by these same Palestinian prisoners. The Post is quick to sympathize with Palestinian pain, but blinds itself to Israeli suffering.
The Times all too often also engages in pro-Palestinian propaganda in its news columns. But in this instance, in the use of photos, it stuck to even-handed journalism. The Post did not.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers